60 years of blockade of Cuba



Six decades of criminal blockade of the island has mainly served to bring suffering to the Cuban population.

It's easy to say, but they were six very difficult decades that began with a disconcerting lightness and the belief that the US government's blockade of Cuba would not last long, maybe a couple of years.

On February 2, 1962, US President John F. Kennedy telephoned his press secretary, Pierre Salinger, and gave him an urgent task: "I need a lot of [Cuban] cigars." “How many, Mr. president?” “About a thousand,” Kennedy replied. Salinger visited Washington's best-stocked stores and purchased 1.200 hand-rolled H. Upmann Petit Corona cigars in the fertile plains of Pinar del Río, in the western part of the island.

“The next morning, I walked into my White House office around 8:XNUMX am, and the direct line to the President's office was already ringing,” said salinger to magazine Cigar Aficionado years later. “'How did you do, Pierre?' he asked as I walked through the door. 'Very well,' I replied. …Kennedy smiled and opened the drawer. He pulled out a long paper which he signed immediately. It was the decree that banned all Cuban products from the United States. Cuban cigars were now illegal in our country.”

The communication vehicles of the time reported quite accurately the meaning of that decision. The magazine The Nation wrote: “Cuba's economy… depended on the United States for essentials such as trucks, buses, bulldozers, telephone and electrical equipment, industrial chemicals, medicines, raw cotton, detergents, lard, potatoes, poultry, butter, a wide variety of of canned goods, and half of staples in the Cuban diet like rice and black beans. …A nation that had been an economic appendage of the United States was suddenly left adrift; it was as if Florida had been cut off from the rest of the country, unable to sell oranges and cattle or bring in tourists, gasoline, auto parts, or rockets from Cape Canaveral.”

There were 657 days between February 3, 1962 – when Kennedy issued a blockade of trade between the US and Cuba – and November 22, 1963, when he was assassinated.

Kennedy was killed before he could burn his arsenal of Cuban cigars one by one and before the agenda of negotiations was finalised. finished to perhaps reverse or ease the lockdown, a process that was underway at the time of the Dallas assassination.

Two key factors that determined the start of negotiations were the failure of the Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba in April 1961 – the invaders had to be exchanged for food and tractors – and the missile crisis of October 1962 which involved the US. , the USSR and Cuba. a memo submitted by Gordon Chase, Latin American affairs specialist for the National Security Council, to McGeorge Bundy, President Kennedy's national security adviser, on April 11, 1963, cynically recommended: "If the sweet approach [to Castro] proved viable and, in contrast, successful, the benefits would be substantial”.

Kennedy's attempts at rectification were of no use, nor were his appeals not only to elementary justice but also to pragmatism. Dozens of analysts, officials and even former US presidents have demanded as long as sanity prevails to avoid the punishment imposed on the Cuban people for these continuous embargoes, which are based on sadistic impulse, inertia or simply the arrogance of a bunch of politicians. But Washington has continued to show vivid signs that he will not back down. Wayne Smith, who was head of the US Interests Section in Havana and one of the strongest voices against the blockade imposed unilaterally by his country, concluded that Cuba seems have "the same effect on American administrations as the full moon has on werewolves".

Those born when Kennedy, with his ulterior motives and a secret stash of cigars, signed Executive Order 3.447, which decreed a total blockade of Cuba, now have grandchildren and even great-grandchildren. Some of these Cubans died and many will die without knowing how a country works under normal conditions – the old one or the new one with Covid-19, it doesn’t matter anymore. They will never understand how it has been possible for the US to act against millions of people for so long and with so much hatred, a hatred without limits or rational explanation.

*Rosa Miriam Elizalde is a Cuban journalist and writer. Author, among other books, of Our Chavez.

Translation: Fernando Lima das Neves.

Originally published on the portal nodal


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